It's All Connected

It's All Connected

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sometimes Being a Yatch is All I Have to Hold On To

I ran by Wal-Mart today. I know, I really need to stop going to the Shadle Wal-Mart because bad things happen there (yes, I am referring to the hiked up skirt incident) but then what would I blog about?

I am walking through the parking lot, and I have just buttoned my keys into my coat pocket and pulled my hood up. This truck full of camo covered hicks drives up slowly and yells something at me. I thought they had told me I had dropped something out of my pocket. So I look down at the ground and reach for my pocket.

Cue redneck laughter.

I suddenly realize that they have yelled that I have dropped my pocket.

Hicks: Got ya!

Now, I am not proud of what came next. But they had not, in fact, "got me".

Me: Hey, I think you dropped your girlfriend! Oh yeah, you never had one!

Then I flipped them the bird.

I know, I know. It was totally a snotty thing to do, Immature. Definitely took the low road there. But come on, hillbillies, if you want to "get" someone, you make sure you aren't driving by in a diesel truck that makes what you are saying hard to hear. And besides, sometimes being a biatch is the only thing I have to hold on to,

Someday You'll See Us On the News

If there was ever to be an investigation in our home, I think Jero and I would be arrested. Seriously, our animals are trying to frame us for murder.

Last week, Oz took to eating leaves. Pee leaves to be exact. Not sure why, I Googled it but Google turned out to not be terribly helpful. Said he could be doing it to purposefully throw up, or he could be doing it for attention. Either way, for 48 hours, while I was recovering from bronchitis, I cleaned up massive amounts of vomit off our carpet.

On a side note, I also had to do laundry that day and was forced to go into the basement, where I dropped the fabric softener sheets in a crevice and FISHED THEM OUT MYSELF. I totally rocked that day. I was invincible.

So, after cleaning up doggie stomach contents and only throwing up twice myself, it seemed as if our carpet was saved from the worst of it.

Today, Jero and I were talking about zombie ants, no really they exist. It was in Scientific American, Google it. I would link it, but I haven't learned how to do that yet. I've been too busy cleaning up regurgitated pee leaves.

While having this conversation, Mr. Giles was doing his typical I'm-going-to-prance-in-circles-around-you-until-you-pay-attention-to-me dance. All of a sudden, Jero says, "I think Giles cut his foot." I look around and see a crime scene all around us.

Seriously. Blood. Everywhere.

Dexter would have had a field day.

This may make me a terrible pet owner, but all I could focus on was the fact that the brand new carpet was covered in blood. In my defense, Giles rips his dew claw a few times a year, and though I know it can't feel great for him, it heals and is fine.

As I am scrubbing blood out of the carpet I start to giggle.

Jero: What?

Me: If a CSI team ever came in here and sprayed Luminol, we would be arrested.

Jero has the dogs gated into the kitchen and he's trying to get Giles to sit still.

Jero: Giles, hold still, you're going to get AIDS.

Me: How did our kitchen floor get AIDS?

Jero: Ummm...

Me: I don't think you know how AIDS works. Which is either a really good or really bad thing for me. Seriously though, we could be arrested if there was ever an investigation.

Jero: I guess we'll have to try and not get investigated for homicide.

Me: I can't always control these things. Especially because I am starting to think the dogs are trying to frame us.

Jero: Why would the dogs want to frame us for murder?

Me: So we wouldn't be here to keep them off the furniture. Duh.

Jero: Makes perfect sense.

Me: Think about it. Blood, stomach contents, feces, urine. It's like a scene from The Walking Dead in here. We need to keep an eye on this situation. Or maybe we should make a preemptive strike and let the police know that *we* are not the criminals in this house.

Jero: Sure, I can imagine that conversation, 'hello, detective, we just wanted to let you know that we are not responsible for any crimes committed in our neighborhood.'

Me: Maybe I shouldn't have cleaned up the evidence. That just screams guilty.

Jero: One day the mailman is going to go missing, we'll just find a boot and some short pants on the lawn.

Me: Exactly! We have to watch our backs.

So, if you ever see us on the news, please will you testify in our defense?

I'm telling you, dogs are sneaky.

criminal masterminds

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Day the Girl Scouts Tried to Kill Me

I was reading Hyperbole and a Half the other day. If you do not follow this blog, you are missing out. If you'd like to understand what I'm talking about, you can find a link somewhere over there. --->

Anyway, she was talking about feeling fearless. She illustrated her fearlessness with the line "I may even touch a spider..." That got me to thinking, what would I do if I had a moment of fearlessness? Let's face it, you and I both know it won't be touching a spider. I do not see why I ever need to not be afraid of spiders. Has my fear of spiders ever lost me something awesome? Nope. Has it saved me repeatedly from certain death? Absolutely. No, what I would do if I were suddenly fearless has nothing to do with eight legged freaks.

I would complete a Ropes Course.

The summer I turned 13, my Girl Scout troop took a trip to Rainbow Beach Resort in Inchelium to partake in a Ropes Course Challenge. It was an entire weekend that, at the time, I thought was going to be amazing.

We spent the first day doing the lower course. Learning to trust one another, because you know as Girl Scouts we were a bunch of untrustworthy animals, saving a puma with rope burns and food coloring in water, and attempting to get a group of uncoordinated pubescent girls over a great big wall. I still wonder if it was really a scout trip or our parents sending us to bratty girl boot camp.

I did enjoy that first day, it wasn't scary and even a little fun. I thought moving on to the high course the next day would be just as entertaining. Until I saw exactly how high the high course actually was.

We awoke early, pulled one of my troop member's mattresses off the top bunk with her on it, and got ready for another day of female bonding. Getting ready for the high course consisted of very handsome boys, who called themselves "guides", teaching us how to put on our harnesses and use terms like "ready to climb" and "climb on". Then we were taken to the course and shown our first challenge.

I was sure that I was going to die, and even though our troop leader was trying to reassure me, all I heard was, "die on".

The first challenge were three wires strung between two trees forty feet up in the air. To get to these wires, there were tiny metal loops in the tree that looked like thumb tacks, but were supposedly "hand holds" and "foot holds". Once you climbed the staple ladder, you were meant to step out onto a tiny wooden platform and from there, using two of the wires as more "hand holds" step onto the third wire and walk all the way across to another tiny wooden casket, I mean platform. Once you got across, you then had to turn around and go back to the center, lean back and remove your feet from the wire, trusting one of your fellow scouts to hold you while you repelled to the bottom.

I thought that with age, this task would not seem so daunting, forty feet not so high. Instead, even writing it makes me think that this Ropes Course is just a convenient way to lynch your young.

I watched a couple of girls go first and had just started to think I may be able to complete this challenge, when somehow it was my turn.

I clipped in, parroted the words I was taught and climbed away. I was about halfway up the tree when some bright person decided to say, "you're doing great, Sara, don't look down." I of course promptly looked down and froze. I couldn't move, I couldn't even talk. I was hovering over the Grand Canyon, hanging from a piece of dental floss and clinging to four toothpicks attached to the wall with Elmer's Glue. I remember people yelling at me to keep going and shaking my head. Then came the idea to just come back down the way I had come, to which I emphatically shook my head. Then one of the "guides" tells me that they can just lower me down, but first I would have to let go of the tree so they could swing me to the middle. I lowered my head, closed my eyes, and wrapped my arms tightly around my new best friend, Mr. Tree.

The rest is a bit of a blur. I believe I had to have found my voice enough to tell them I would most definitely not be doing any of those things. That they would just have to come up and get me. And that is exactly what happened.

One of the "guides" climbed up the tree, wrapped his arms around me and the tree, and pried my fingers apart. Then we both swung to the center like Tarzan and Hysterical Jane, and we were lowered to the ground. It was official, I was the planet's biggest wuss.

I respectfully bowed out of the next few challenges. Choosing to be the one holding the ropes rather than the one hanging precariously from them. The final challenge was nothing but a forty foot telephone pole covered with more thumb tacks. Hanging in front of the top of the pole was a trapeze. We were meant to climb it, which left you having to figure out how to get yourself in a standing position on top of the pole. Then we were told to set a goal and jump for the trapeze. Catching the handle was meant to represent reaching your goals while jumping and missing was meant to teach us that at least trying makes us feel "good" and "accomplished".

This challenge I actually did, but only because one of my fellow scouts kept saying, "you'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't".

Filled with a guilt I thought only my mother could make me feel, I climbed that sumbitch and managed to stand on the top. I stared down that ugly trapeze and set what I thought was an unattainable goal. Then I reached out my arms and jumped.

The girl belaying me was not paying attention. I assume she thought there was no way I'd actually do it, so she let me fall ten feet before one of the "guides" grabbed hold and I received the worst wedgie of my life and what I believe was a small stroke.

My fingers never went near the trapeze.

Guess I shouldn't have set that goal to be able to touch a spider.

Hug those babies, don't steal their Halloween candy, and never let them join the Girl Scouts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Think I'm Crazy

I was driving home today and saw this kid walking along Monroe. He was wearing red skinny jeans. Now, I'm not knocking his red pants, if it works for Santa it's okay by me. The problem with these particular pants is that they were baggy and he had them pulled down like he was Rappy McGangstapants.

I then had an argument with myself inside my noggin. I do this quite often and am hoping I'm not the only one because it's no fun being the only loony in the Canadian coin purse.

Let's give you an example.

I was driving one day (it might have also been today) and I saw this house for sale. Even though I recently signed a lease and have no intention of moving any time soon, I looked over at this cute little house. I noticed that the front lawn was all rocks. I thought to myself, "that's the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Why would somebody do that?" I then promptly argued,
"it could be a little old person who no longer has the energy to keep up a lawn. Why are you so judgmental?"
"Well, self, that's a very good point, but may I just point out that if an old person were to fall they would be much more likely to break a hip on those rocks than on say some grass."
"You also make a fine point, but we cannot see their backyard, maybe it is lined with that bouncy asphalt like substance that they make playgrounds out of because kids these days are a bunch of pussies. Maybe this old person only goes in and out through the back and the front is just for show."
"Well, that...screw you and your slightly less judgmental (except to the children of today) logic. I'm done talking to you now."

That is usually how these things go in my head. I really hope I am not alone here, because when I reread that I find it makes me sound absolutely nutso.

Back to the red pants.

I think to myself, "why? They are skinny jeans for Pete's sake. They are not meant to be worn like gangster pants because they are supposed to make you look SKINNY!"
"Geez, lay off the poor kid, maybe he's just too skinny for skinny jeans."
"You mean like he's underfed?"
"OR he has a wicked metabolism. Why must you always be so negative?"
"You're right, they are probably just ill fitting skinny jeans is all. They should make an emaciated jeans style for kids like that."
"Yeah, there you go, way to think positively."
"Or his mother could make him a sandwich."
"My sarcasm was obviously lost on you. I'm done talking to you now."
"Could it be that like your sarcasm, I just don't get fashion?"
"Really? The silent treatment? Nice, way to be a grown up. Wait, look at that house for sale with the front lawn of rocks! That's the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Why would somebody do that?"

Hug those babies, feed them a sandwich, and buy them pants that fit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Awesome-ness of Stephen Hawking

Last night, Jero and I watched an episode of Curiosity narrated by Stephen Hawking. It was asking the question, "did God create the universe?". It blew my mind. I haven't stopped thinking about it and the conversation it caused Jero and I to have.

Here's the thing, like many people I have been questioning the existence of God for a very long time. Say since June 16th, 1990. Yes, I was ten years old, but it was the first time I questioned the purpose of a higher being which made me question there actually being one.

I went through a very Christian phase for quite a number of years, starting in Junior High and ending late in High School. I was baptized southern Baptist, I was "born again", I recruited, I witnessed, I preached. Then, I questioned.

It was a shoot first, ask questions later kind of experience. I loved the feeling of community that the church brought me. The feeling of a forever family when I was so struggling with feeling like I was completely alone in the world. My mom worked a lot, was gone a lot, and I was pretty much raising myself. It felt so comforting to have this large circle of people who helped fill that void. But as I got older, and began to really listen to what was being preached and what was being sung, I realized that all of these people did not believe my dad would be in Heaven. In an instant, all of that comfort was gone.

I stopped going to church, I began to call myself an Agnostic. I believed in a higher power, but I didn't believe in organized religion. I took bits and pieces of different faiths and beliefs and I made my own idea of God. I read countless books on theology. I read, "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" and thought I had found the answer. Thought I had finally come to understand what God was all about. But with that came this nagging question...what is the purpose of a higher being?

I have many friends who are Atheist. Many scientists, physicists, and the like who do not believe in a god. Any god. My brain has been a true believer for some time. The laws of science and nature make sense to me, but my heart is the hold out.

Last night, Stephen Hawking explained the universe in such a way that this light bulb came on in my head. There is no purpose of a God, so why would there be one? Why would He need to exist in the first place?

As the show was ending, Mr. Hawking was explaining how time did not exist before the Big Bang. That without time, God would not have the time to create the Big Bang in the first place. And my heart immediately took over my brain and said, "God is beyond time". For the first time, my head fought back and said, "now is that logical, or are you just trying to make yourself feel better?".

Stupid head and it's stupid logic.

What I was struggling with, no what I AM struggling with, is the idea of there being no Heaven. No place to reunite with those I've lost, those I am going to lose someday, and those I will lose when I die. I looked at Jero and said, "that made me really sad".

Then my wonderful, smart, loving, beautiful man said something that I can't help but love with all of my heart. I am going to paraphrase because this was rather a long conversation.

He basically said that if all mass is energy, then we are energy. Our memories, which are neurons firing, our selves, we are all energy. And energy can never be destroyed, just changed. Therefor, when we die, we do not simply disappear. We are changed into other things that make up this world we all love and hate.

Now, I would love to talk to a scientist about this idea. I really would. Because I still can't completely convince my heart. It's also an issue of some people getting exactly what they deserve. I will be honest and say that along with not seeing my lost loved ones in the way I had always wanted to believe, I also have a vengeful side. I am human, after all. I like the idea of rapists, murderers and pedophiles getting their just desserts in the end. To be judged and sentenced in the end the way they never were in life. That part of me also wants to believe in God.

I am horribly confused but completely in awe of the fortitude of the human mind. Without scientists like Galileo, Einstein, and Hawking, we would all still be thinking that the tides are caused by some god. Really is that any less far fetched than wanting to believe that some higher being is waiting around up there to hand out justice for the wronged here on Earth? Shouldn't that be our job? Shouldn't we be striving for a more well oiled legal system? Shouldn't we be trying to do these things ourselves with our own morality? These great men brought us out of the dark age and into the time of not only knowing how the universe works, but WHY. I cannot help but be in awe of that.

I know this post is going to upset so many people. It's going to cause controversy and be called heresy. But here's the thing, I am not trying to change what anyone else believes. I'm not one hundred percent sure what I believe myself. I won't try to change your minds, or the minds of your children. I am just trying to wrap my head around what's happening in my heart. Or maybe the opposite of that.

Live this life like it's the only one. Because to me, whether Christianity is right or wrong, it's the only one we're going to get. Why wait to make amends until it is too late? If there is a Heaven, we won't be able to fix anything from there anyway.

Hug your babies, follow your own path, and may the mass times acceleration be with you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nearly Near Death Experience

So, this has been one crazy week and I am so grateful for the long weekend ahead.

Most of you may know what this week held for me. It started out wonderfully, with a long visit with an old friend that reminded me of the type of women I like to be around. Friendship should never be work. Yes, all relationships take effort, but never work. At least not to me. This old friend is exactly the type of person I enjoy being around. We don't have to see each other every day, or talk on the phone, or text, or IM. We can go months without seeing each other and fall right into place. I have been questioning my views on friendship for a while now, but she showed me that we all SHOULD have separate lives and sometimes those lives take us in separate directions just to bring us full circle again.

Anyway, completely off topic. That was on Sunday.

Monday morning I went to leave for work, and something made me turn my head to look at my parking spot. Normally, I'm lighting a cigarette, turning on my morning radio show, or just plain focused on getting out of our lot without hitting another car. Where my car was parked, near the rear passenger tire, was a huge puddle. Not a wet spot, but a puddle. I immediately put my car in park and got out.

I walked first to the puddle, which smelled like gasoline, but I couldn't be sure. I then walked around my car to the rear passenger side, and there I found my car profusely leaking fuel. I took a few steps back, because even though Myth Busters says it's not really possible, I was smoking and didn't feel like exploding after such a nice reunion with my friend. I grabbed my phone and called Jero so he could come down and look at it. He agreed that I was really leaking gas.

While at work, one of the gals at the bank told me that her dad is a mechanic and gave me his information so I could find out if I could afford to have it fixed. When calling him, I asked if he thought it was safe to drive and he told me that he'd be worried about a fire. So, I had it towed. This was the second time fate had my back.

Yesterday, I find out that my car had been tampered with. Four of the five lug nuts on the tire by the gas leak had been removed. Had I not seen the puddle, had I driven my car to work, the tire would have come off, causing sparks. Sparks and gas. Far worse than oil and water.

I have not stopped thinking about what could have happened. I no longer feel safe in a place I have lived for five years. What if I'd had my son in the car? My mom? Jero? A friend? What if the mechanic had been less than superb and told me to drive my car. I live at the top of a hill. I have sharp curves and hills to get anywhere I go. God. I am so freaked out.

Today I picked up my car. He says he believes someone was trying to take my tires.

This is how I know it was more malicious than that.

My tires have covers on them. The cover was put back on my tire. No way for me to see the lug nuts missing. If someone had been trying to steal my tires and had been caught up with my one locking lug nut then surprised someone, wouldn't you expect the cover to my tire to be lying on the ground? Instead, it was neatly placed back on my car. When I look around my well lit, covered parking, I see numerous cars without covers. Numerous cars with the same size wheels, and many of them much further away from any traffic. Easy pickings compared to my car.

Jero's car was keyed recently, and all of this so close together made me realize that in all the years we've been here, we've only had one other incident and then Jero was parked on the street.

I think I have a stalker, and I think I know who it is.

I'm almost sure I know who it is.

With the police involved, I'll have evidence soon enough. If they've ever been finger printed for a job, a background check, or anything else, it is only a matter of time. I have informed my neighbors both in writing and verbally to please keep an eye out for strange happenings concerning our property. To immediately call the police.

This is not just a prank. This was done to do harm to me and others in my life. I don't mess around with the safety of my loved ones. I don't take things like this lightly. Yesterday I was afraid, today I am pissed. I will be moving, and if I share my address with any of you, I ask that you not share it with anyone else. Once we are out of this place I do not want this person to know where I am, EVER AGAIN.

I am thankful for the universe having my back. I am thankful for a mechanic that took his time to find out exactly what happened. I am thankful for puddles, and tow trucks and locking lug nuts. I am thankful for being here and not in the hospital or worse. I am thankful for not driving my car to meet my friend. I am just so damn thankful.

I might still be a bit afraid, but I WILL take that power back. Ask six guys from my high school how I deal with bullies. I will give credit that I didn't think anyone could be this evil, but I won't make that mistake again. Me and mine won't take this lying down, and the next time this person will get caught.

Check your lug nuts, hug your babies, thank the universe.

Later, skaters.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

FYI: Petco is Not for Fishing

I figure every once in a while I will post these little FYI posts, because let's face it, I think I know a lot and feel it my obligation to share said knowledge with the seven people who read my blog.

Twelve days ago we had to send back a fish to it's rightful owner. We had been fostering him since before Thanksgiving, and being the total emo I am, and Jero being the sweet man who wants to see me not crying over a Betta, we decided to go and get ourselves a fishy or two.

We walked into Petco and headed straight for the fancy goldfish. We thought we'd get two, and maybe a snail. There was one there, the only Telescope Goldfish in the bunch. She had HUGE green eyes and the rest of her was orange. She looked like a fish directly out of a Dr. Seuss book. Then there was another little fat orange one with tufts near her eyes that looked like long eyelashes. Needless to say, picking two was going to be difficult. Especially since Jero has weird eye issues and was bound and determined that if we got the one with the big eyes he'd come out one morning to it grotesquely damaged. We decided to pick a bowl first.

Are you kidding me Petco? Twenty dollars for a two gallon goldfish bowl??

Now, I understand that when picking a pet you shouldn't be thinking about money. If you don't have the means to care for an animal, you shouldn't have an animal. That being said, most pet owners worry about possible vet bills and the like. We didn't go out and buy a thousand dollar Irish Wolfhound (my dream dog) because we could not afford an Irish Wolfhound. We went through rescue programs and found two very wonderful additions to our family because that was in our means to do so. Thinking about the cost does not make you a bad pet owner, it makes you financially responsible. It was never a question of if we could feed or shelter our dogs, and though vet bills do make me sweat a lot, we have always found a way to do what our dogs needed.

Fish are different. Fish are not long term pets. Some are. Some can just keep swimming for years. Goldfish do not fall in this category.

I was an avid fish caretaker in my youth. From everything to a few goldfish in a bowl to an elaborate saltwater tank with a live coral reef. The longest I ever had a goldfish was three years. Which is an eternity in goldfish years.

Goldfish die. Why on earth would I spend twenty bucks on a fishbowl? But, at this point we'd seen the fish and were definitely getting one. We decided to ask the fish person what she recommended as far as size. She looked at us like we were the scum of the earth and said, "you can't put two fish in a bowl!"

We did learn something. We learned that for every half inch of fish you need a gallon of water. Wow. That's a lot of space for two fancy goldfish and a snail.

I still think we were suckered. Now, she was probably right about the bowl. But, we ended up buying a ten gallon tank, with filter, light source, sample food and chemicals. Rocks, Mt. Wannahockaloogie and other decorations. Fish food, net, more chemicals, and an air pump.

Folks, the goldfish that lived three years? I won him at a demolition derby at our local fair. I carried him in that sack all day long. Got him home and stuck him in a glass bowl...maybe it held a gallon of water. He eventually did go into a larger tank when I decided I wanted fish that would need a light source and heater, but that was LONG after I got him. I learned to put Start Right in the water when I had two out of the five other goldfish I bought die of bloat. Kiss This (that was his name) lived through it all. I will admit he was a hearty fish.

Come on! We totally got suckered. But, the idea of getting back into this hobby after a decade and a half away from it was kind of clouding my judgment.

She told us that our tank should be set up and running for 24-36 hours before we introduce fish to it. So, we spent too much money and didn't even come home with a fish.

Twenty four hours later, I was back at Petco. The same girl helped me. She informed me that snails required a heat source, but a Plecostomus did not. So, I picked out Tara (big eyes), Willow (Oranda goldfish), and Angel (Plecostomus that lurks). The lady was very nice, she helped me pick out the right air pump and sent me on my way.

Three days later, on Saturday, Kelly got to pick out a fish for remembering three things he learned that week in school. He picked a larger Oranda which he named Daisy Buffy Squarepants. Jero picked a beautiful Shubunkin goldfish we named Spike.

Now, I am going to stop here, because I am about to rip on Petco big time. I know the wonderful things Petco does. I know they help shelter pets until adoption. I understand that when fish are shipped to them they arrive extremely stressed. There is bound to be a high mortality rate in new tanks. Fish who are not hearty cannot handle the stress of new tank after new tank. I get all that.

But I have some justified anger surrounding the way they sold these fish.

The fish food that they sold me told me to feed my fish several times a day in amounts that could be consumed in a few minutes. I did this to the glee of my seemingly always hungry fish. Tara was undeniably my favorite. Her great big eyes and the way she swam made her seem always so happy. She was the first to get sick.

She started having issues with floating. She'd float to the top and would rest there, unable to swim to the center or bottom of the tank. She looked miserable, fins all droopy, big eyes somehow sad.

I went to Petco to get more chemicals so I could change out half the water. I knew she had bloat, and Jero had found that this is a common problem with Telescope goldfish. The site he found online said that you should only feed your goldfish once a day, because they have no stomachs overfeeding can cause constipation. It said to feed her lightly boiled, peeled peas. He did. The young man at Petco was very honest, he said that their fancy tanks had Ick. He told me what treatment chemicals he would use.

I got home, put Tara in her own bowl because the other fish were picking on her, and changed out the water. When I went to put Tara back in, she was dead. I took her to Petco with a sample of my water and was then told that her eyes were far too big, even for Telescopes and that she was probably deformed. They gave me a refund. The nice young man told me what to watch for in my tank to see if I had Ick.

That was last Sunday. I'd had the tank for four days.

Then, on Wednesday, Jero called me at work to tell me that Spike had died. He was having an issue with one of his fins. Buffy, the bully, was really aggressive during feeding times. We had talked to a girl from Petco who told us there wasn't a whole lot of damage goldfish can do to each other, and that he probably wasn't as hurt as he seemed. Spike seemed to perk up the next day, but then when Jero came out of the shower he was dead.

I was furious. I had never lost two fish so closely together. When Jero took him and a water sample back to Petco, they had finally put ONE sign up on ONE tank saying they were under observation. Code for Ick. Jero got to see exactly what Ick looks like. The thing about one sign is that their tanks share a water source.

Our water had a slightly elevated ammonia level, but not high enough to kill Spike. We treated our water to remove the ammonia.

Then, yesterday morning, after picking up Kelly, Jero told me we had Ick.

Basically, due to still not holding down food, I had to pump Jero up to be strong when he went to Petco. We needed the medication to treat the Ick, and I wanted to give that place a piece of my mind through my gentle fiance.

I get the good they do. I get they are a large chain and the bottom line is what matters, but they have a responsibility to sell healthy pets, or to inform a customer of any illness.

We should have been informed that their tanks had Ick. When fish come in, naturally stressed, they should not be immediately put in tanks with healthy fish for sale. They should be quarantined for ten days until they know there is no illness. Tara, so obviously misshapen, should have been sold with a warning that she probably wouldn't last long. A customer should not be told once her fish start dying that they had Ick when she bought them.

Because of these things, we did get the medicine for free, but this is little consolation. Jero and I are animal people. We know fish are not long term pets, but we have had two fish die and two very ill out of the FIVE fish we purchased in less than two weeks.

The moral of this story? Petco is good for many things, but I would not purchase your fish there. If you do, I hope this educates you as to the questions you should ask when you buy your pets (this experience makes me nervous about the rodents they sell as well) there.

When did they come in? Are there illnesses in your tanks? Are the directions on this package correct?

I hope you have better luck than us and your fish just keep swimming on and on.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lakeside Stories: The Day of the Bats

I've been pretty much curled up in a tiny-ish ball for the last two days. I can't stare at the television any longer and I need to take a little break from Stephen King. I decided to write...but what about? I thought about writing of being sick as a child, but the only one that came to mind as worthy of sharing took place in my ballerina year and I don't think you want flu ridden, tutu wearing images of me dancing in your heads. I decided instead to write the first in a series I'd like to call Lakeside Stories.

I grew up...well, really I only a third grew up, between two homes on North and South Twin Lakes near Inchelium, Washington. I was a very lucky kid. Growing up as I did, with so much outdoorsy goodness right outside my front door, I feel as if I had a particularly adventurous childhood compared to kids today.

Ahem, we're going to pretend that didn't make me sound old.

It wasn't always rainbows and puppies. No, I am not about to talk of walking barefoot, uphill both ways. I took a bus, though the walk from the stop to our house wasn't short, it was flat, and I always had shoes even if I chose not to wear them.

If any of you know me, you know I am just about scared of anything that crawls, has big claws, or tries to dive bomb you from the sky. The cabin we lived in had an abundance of all of these things. As a matter of fact, I blame most of my fears on those years by the lake.

One day that stands out in particular I like to think of as the day of the bats.

Our cabin had a huge bat problem. They lived in the little arches of our metal roof, and you could hear them in the low hanging ceiling of our bedrooms. The squeaking was enough to drive you crazy. You couldn't help but wonder if that one right by your head had figured out a way inside.

My mom repeatedly had an exterminator to our house, but the suckers just weren't dying. When confronted by my mother, the exterminator actually replied, "it's not a tumor, I'll be back" just kidding, but he did say, "you want me to kill them?" He argued that bats eat bugs, and are therefor good things. My mother informed him that they were not eating OUR bugs, as will be revealed to you in a later story, he was then told that as an exterminator he was expected to exterminate.

He applied this goo into our roof. The goo would get on a bat who would carry it back and the others would clean him and the goo would spread. But, the goo was not lethal, it got in their wings and kept them from flying. Our job was to bop them on the head and scoop them up into garbage bags.

I was the designated bag holder.

This worked for a while, until they moved from the roof of our house to behind the backboard of our basketball hoop, into the eaves of our garage.

At least we didn't have to fall asleep counting bats anymore.

One bright, sunny day, my mom and dad told my brother to go outside and put a hose behind the backboard to flush out the bats.

Now, this particular big brother looks the least Native out of all of us, reddish hair, freckled up the wazzoo (just an expression, we aren't those kind of rednecks) but he did things according to Indian Time better than Sitting Bull himself. Everything in good time seemed to be his motto.

So, my mom and dad decided they could wait a while before going out to help him, because it wasn't as if time was of an essence. Then they heard screaming.

My brother had decided the best way to go about this was to climb the ladder and stick the hose in with the water already running. As soon as he did so, bats came flooding out of the rafters.

Now, I don't really know if I was there. This story has been told and retold so many times in my life, it becomes hazy as to where exactly I was while all of this was happening. But I remember it as if I was standing in the center and everything was happening in a slow motion, floaty sort of way.

My brother was screaming and waving his arms, "BAAAAATTTTTTSSSS!!!"

My mother was waving a broom, her weapon of choice, as you will also learn in another story.

My sister was yelling and waving a baseball bat, which we were ducking along with the winged kind.

My dad was calmly standing there, his arms raised to try and ease our stress saying, "everyone needs to just calm down, they're just bats. Just calm down."

My mother points to his chest, "Bob..."

Stuck to my dad's chest was a big, black bat. Had it been back lit in yellow, he would have looked JUST like Batman, except for the sheer look of fright in his unmasked eyes.

Here I remember my dad screaming in a much higher pitch than I am sure is accurate while saying, "get it off! GET IT OFF OF ME! GET IT OFF, PLEASE!!!"

My mother brushed the bat away and by this point, the bats had fled to the trees. When we all looked around we realized that the entire resort, which our cabin neighbored, was standing along the fence line watching the spectacle. Perfect.

This may be why, while camping or whatnot, whenever I hear that familiar squeaking coming from the trees, I may say, "they're just bats" but the calmness doesn't quite reach my eyes.

Because it's only a matter of time before someone gets a purple nurple from Dracula.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Love Story

Most of you may already know this story, or at least the pertinent parts, but just sit back and listen patiently again. Treat me like you would your memory challenged family member that everyone puts up with so as not to hurt their feelings.

I met Jero when I was fifteen and he was a mature man of sixteen. I had never met anyone who could make me laugh so hard. He was strange, I was strange and totally twitterpated. There was just one problem...he was twitterpated for someone else.

I was relentless. I kept telling myself that by the time he realized how perfect we were for each other, we would already have this amazing friendship and it would be a very smooth process.

I followed him around wherever he went. I injected myself into his group of friends, which turned out to be one of the best acts of serendipity in my life. I found a group of people who were all very strange! I fit in!

I have never been a very patient person. After months, honestly, it may have been less than that. Time is funny when you've loved a person for so long. I can sit here and say, wow, I am, that is sixteen years. That is a long time. But our first kiss, the first time we held hands, the first time he told me he loved me, all of these things can feel just like yesterday.

Anyway, I couldn't take any more of listening to him talk about this other girl. Not because I didn't like her, on the contrary I loved her myself. It may have helped that she loved someone else, so I did not see her as a threat. He'd drive her home, which was about four hundred miles out of town, and I'd tag along. I began to neglect paying attention in Geometry and Spanish because I was so focused on making him laugh. Trying so hard to be cool and not some awkward, geeky freshman.

In other words, Jero had himself a tiny little stalker.

We began camping in my backyard. A large group of us would pretzel ourselves into a four man tent pitched on the flattest part of my yard. I made sure that I always slept by Jero. Hoping and praying that maybe our hands would touch while we slept. This would have worked better if I didn't have the uncanny clumsiness to knee or elbow him in the nuts every time I had to pee.

You see, we slept cross ways across the front of the tent, so as to fit two more bodies into the Tetris-like puzzle that was our temporary home. Jero always slept right by the door because I had (and may still do) an unfounded snake fear. I may have thought (and may still do) that he hung the moon and the stars but that did not mean I was going to take a snake bite for him. So he slept nearest the door. As you may know, a tent that size does not enable you to stand up and gracefully exit. No, I had to crawl my way over Jero and out, all the while worrying about what could be in my shoes waiting for me outside the door. EVERY SINGLE TIME I would knee, elbow, fist or kick Jero in the family jewels.

He should really be seen by a doctor to make sure the repeated assaults didn't permanently sterilize him.

One night, we were in his room watching movies. We were both on the bed and I fell asleep snuggled in the nook of his arm. His mom walked in, saw us, and said, "oh, I don't think so," and exited the room.

It was not long after that, on one of these camp outs, that our hands met and we kissed. I honestly can't remember if we were in my backyard or at Bradbury Beach. I think it was Bradbury. I just remember the musty smell of the tent. That we didn't want anyone to hear us kissing, but eventually someone said, "are you guys kissing?!"

I have loved this man since I was a girl. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Performing acts of self sabotage because I was scared, young, not ready to feel so strongly for another person. We both went our separate ways, on a few occasions. I had Kelly, got married. He went to college, dated my friends (you totally knew that was coming). But we still found each other again.

We came back together as adults, but I still remember sitting on the love seat he kept on his balcony for us smokers, watching the people in the park, laughing. I remember our hands barely touching and all of a sudden I was fifteen again, not wanting to move a muscle for fear of breaking the spell. It's amazing that I lasted so long without the feeling of home that envelops me when we are together.

We are still strange, and really quite Ricky and Lucy together. He once broke my nose in his sleep. I have repeatedly lit our kitchen on fire trying out a new recipe. He burped in the dog's face, which was very near my face, and made me vomit. He puts Cheez-Its in the bathroom. We have a monkey song...and dance. And every second of those moments, and every moment in between, I think how lucky I am to have found the perfect partner for me. I am grateful those stupid self sabotaging mistakes are in the past and now all that matters is our future.

Aww. I know this has been sappy, and longer than I meant it to be. I wanted to get into some of our more exciting exploits and a story or two about The Lincoln and The Raisin, but alas, those are stories for another post.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life Lessons From Johnny Castle

I have been thinking a lot today about loss. Now, keep reading, though this story is about a specific loss of mine, the idea is not. The idea is about universal loss. We've all lost something in our lives right? A loved one, a friendship, an important opportunity, ourselves.

Loss is a great equalizer. It crosses the lines of class. It does not discriminate. At some point in time, we all will face it. As a matter of fact, most of us will face it multiple times in our lives. It's never easy.

When I was in the third grade I had this boyfriend. Now, by boyfriend, I mean we told people we were "going out" without ever actually going anywhere. We never held hands, most definitely never kissed, I don't even think we called each other on the phone. Still, I thought he hung the moon.

One day a new girl arrived in our class. She was cute, as most third grade girls are...okay, that came off a little creepy. I mean, we were all cute. Even chubby me, I was fucking adorable. Kids are supposed to be cute and adorable, otherwise they're doomed to play the evil child in some Stephen King movie.

Anyway, new girl. Everyone is always fascinated by the new girl. I was. She lived a few houses down and we would walk to and from school together. We talked about how dreamy Patrick Swayze was in Dirty Dancing. How someday we'd go away to a resort and meet a handsome boy who would sweep us off our feet and tell our parents, "no one puts Sara in a corner!" Yes, for clarification her name was also Sara...though at this point in time I cannot remember if she spelled her name with an "h" or not. We were bosom buddies.

Well, it wasn't very long before my boyfriend started to notice this new Sara too. He'd always tag her if he was it. His side would always Red Rover her on over. I was devastated. Was I really going to have to choose between my new friend and my boyfriend?

Well, as any little girl would do, I chose the boyfriend. I paid more attention to him, played with him at recess. I think that may have even been the beginning of a life long addiction to flirting. And it worked. Sort of.

He came to school one day and told Sara and I that he had come up with a way to help him choose. He told us that whoever dressed the cutest the next day would be his girlfriend. We both laughed, until we realized he was serious.

The walk home that afternoon was silent.

It. Was. On.

I spent the better part of an hour trying on all of my clothes in every possible combination. Putting my hair in a ponytail, then taking it down again. Wondering if my neon scrunchies clashed with my polka dot tights. I was one panicked fashion victim.

Then I remembered Patrick Swayze.

The next day I wore sweats and one of my dad's t-shirts to school. I barely brushed my hair, and I don't think I wore deodorant. While Sara arrived fresh as a tulip in a pink skirt and ribbons in her hair. I strode confidently over to that player in Transformers sneakers and I said, "I decided anyone who would choose a girlfriend because of her clothes is stupid."

I know, it could have been so much better. It lacks punch and pizazz. But give me a break, I was nine. And telling him, "nobody puts Sara in a corner" would have just confused him. Besides, I said it well, at least I should have, I practiced those words for hours.

The point is, I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to lose my first boyfriend. I didn't want to lose a new friend. I didn't want to lose the competition. Most of all, I didn't want to lose myself.

I stuck to who I was. I took the moral high ground, aside from calling him stupid that is. There was no angry note passing or gossiping at recess. Actually, even though I called him stupid, he and I stayed friends. Sara and I too, until she moved again a year later.

Loss is funny. Some of it sticks with you forever. The loss of a loved one, for instance. Some are healed by time to a point where they don't feel like your heart is hollow . But all reveal a piece of who you are, what you're made of.

It's what you do in the face of loss. How you deal with that grief, that anger, that hurt and sadness that could either help you grow or hold you back.

Nothing puts Sara in a corner, not even loss.